Before the Dunedin test, my thinking on this player was very simple. Why was an aged journeyman, who had fairly poor first class numbers, being given a debut in a home series against England? He was clearly a mediocre, if serviceable cricketer, but not international material. Anderson and Broad would monster him with the ball, and Trott and KP would ruin his confidence and end his career with the bat.
Oh ye of little faith… How was I to know that Martin would turn out to bowl a nice line in bait? In enticing batsmen into doing stupid things, he has become the most effective spinner available to the Black Caps. Wickets are wickets, no matter how they come, and Martin has claimed some impressive scalps. Every single member of the England top 7 bar Cook has succumbed to his bowling at some stage in the last two matches, and he has taken more wickets than every other bowler except Wagner for New Zealand in the series.
His batting has also been significant, even though he is only in his 2nd test innings as I write. 41 runs is respectable for any player on debut, let alone the man coming in at number 9. However, the worth of the innings was that it extended the New Zealand lead to the point where a loss was out of the question. Those were valuable runs in a situation where some tailenders (cough Tim Southee) might have just swung the bat. Martin made England work hard for his wicket. In Wellington he managed to squeeze out another 21 not out, and in doing so almost averted the follow on. He certainly deserves to move up to number 8 for the third test.
Should he be kept in the team long term? Clearly at 32 Bruce Martin is not the future of New Zealand cricket. As a spinner he should have a few years of being capable, and Vettori looks to have retired by proxy through persistant injury. New Zealand could do a lot worse than having Bruce Martin hold the spot until another spinner can stake a claim through domestic cricket. There are very few other options, Jeetan Patel is certainly at the end of the line. I still think it was a strange selection to bring him in, but now that he is there, Martin has done everything required. He deserves to play on.